A few reading notes from a very accessible and jargon-free book of essays: What the Daemon Said: Essays on Horror Fiction, Film, and Philosophy by Matt Cardin (2022)
Readers interested in Ligotti will find this a very useful book to have around. I have been an intermittent Ligotti reader, but Cardin's notes and enthusiasm are contagious, and make me think it would be worthwhile to grab The Nightmare Factory off the shelf.
....I also think it's completely appropriate and legitimate to explore horror in the context of religion and spirituality. Within the Christian tradition and the Judeo-Christian scriptures alone, you can see horror breaking out all over the place and playing a central role. What in the world is up with that awful darkness and dread that come over Abraham in Genesis he's visited by Yahweh and informed of the future enslavement of his people in Egypt? Why does the New Testament author of Hebrews assert that "it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God"? Why does Yahweh sometimes come across in the Book of Isaiah as a chaos monster who is even more terrible in his character, intentions, and ultimate nature than the primeval chaos dragons Leviathan and Rahab, against whom he is supposedly working to save the cosmos? Why does the original ending of the Gospel of Mark—not the longer ending, which appears in many New Testament translations, and which is now known to have been tacked on at a later when date, but the original ending, which comes several verses before that—why does this original ending show the two Marys and Salome discovering Jesus' tomb standing empty after the resurrection, tell of their encounter with the angel inside, and then conclude the account simply by saying that they ran away from the tomb in extreme fear, for trembling and astonishment had come upon them—and that's it? Why are people seized with fear and awe in the New Testament whenever Jesus calms a storm or performs an exorcism or raises a person from the dead? Why is the Book of Revelation full of intense horrific imagery? In short, why does it so often happen, and not only with Judaism and Christianity, but in many other religious traditions as well—think, for example, of Arjuna's horror when Krishna reveals his true appearance in the Bhagavad Gita—that the unveiling of God, Ultimate Reality, the Ground of Being, whatever, is portrayed as an occasion for intense horror?
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[....] As Lovecraft made starkly and resonantly clear in his personal correspondence, and also in his "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction," he wrote horror fiction as a means of capturing and crystallizing his lifelong impressions of an infinite, transcendent reality that seemed to peer through the cracks of the world. These cracks, for him, included skyscapes and vistas of architectural beauty. And his response to these transcendent intimations was deliciously paradoxical. He was both enchanted and terrified by them. He passionately longed for an experience of boundlessness, of freedom from the restraints of physical reality, which he of course knew all too well, both materially, due to his increasing monetary poverty over time, and intellectually, with his vast knowledge of natural science as underwritten by a nineteenth-century mechanistic-materialistic viewpoint. He said over and over that his most powerful emotional experiences were eruptions of infinite longing whenever he observed sunsets or contemplated scenic New England streets and buildings. But as everybody knows, he also experienced those same perceived gaps and that same perceived reality as horrifying, something he probably said most directly and powerfully in the introduction to "Supernatural Horror in Literature." So his career as a horror writer wasn't motivated just by fear of the unknown but by a two-sided emotional coin that was fear on one side and exhilarated longing on the other.
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